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“TikTok detectives” under fire – Crypto News Aktuell in German

LONDON – The tragic case of the disappearance and death of a British woman has shed a disturbing light on the rise of so-called online detectives and amateur detectives who believe they can do the job of the police.

When mortgage adviser Nicola Bulley, 45, disappeared in late January – apparently “vanished” and left her phone on a bank still dialed into a work call – initial reporting was muted.

When her body was found just over three weeks later, the case garnered widespread media coverage and had landed on chilling social media for everyone.

Detectives had focused on the theory that Bulley, a married mother of two young daughters, had fallen into a nearby river and drowned.

But after officers and other specialized divers initially failed to find her body, the online true crime world was quickly swamped with speculation as to what might have happened to her, much to the chagrin of her family.

The coverage hit rock bottom when a TikTok user allowed himself to be filmed digging up potential burial sites and then captured the moment the woman’s body was pulled out of the reeds in the river.

David Schmid, associate professor of English at the University of Buffalo in the US, said the Bulley investigation drew the kind of attention from would-be detectives that is common in US cases today.

“People try to invest more in these cases, become these amateur detectives and try to investigate the crime and offer different views and perspectives,” he told AFP.

‘In the Gutter’

The amateur interest has grown out of the true crime phenomenon of the past decade, which included the 2014 podcast Serial and the 2015 documentary series make a killer about misjudgments, says Schmid.

Both “signaled a new kind of public interest in crime, specifically aimed at either working on cold cases or intervening in cases where people feel a miscarriage of justice has occurred,” he noted.

Other films, documentaries, and television dramas have helped fuel the trend.

A judge last year ordered the immediate release of Adnan Syed, who spent 23 years behind bars for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Serial drew worldwide attention to his case.

Schmid said that many true crime results dealt with their topics sensitively and ethically by escaping the temptation to create a sensation.

It had also avoided focusing too much on or mythologizing the abuser, acknowledging the impact on victims, their families and the wider community.

But he warned that the world of true crime is now moving into uncharted waters.

“I think people are realizing that the era of ethical true crime is coming to an end and that people want their true crime in the gutter,” he said.

Last year’s Netflix crime drama Dahmer Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer turned his crimes into a hugely successful series, but also sparked an angry backlash.

“We’re all one traumatic event away from having the worst day of your life reduced to your neighbor’s favorite show,” commented Eric Perry, a relative of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims.

“Disappointed, No Murder”

The involvement of amateurs — aided by new technology, online databases, and working outside of mainstream media norms — has also raised concerns about the possible destruction of evidence and the damage done to people falsely singled out as suspects.

Amanda Keeler, who teaches digital media at Marquette University in Wisconsin, said the dangers were clear in the infamous case of the four University of Idaho students murdered last November.

“We watch a lot of mysteries, we get really involved, and part of the fun is thinking about the cases and solving them,” she said.

“But there’s this real disconnect between a TV show and real people. It’s just not the same.”

While Bulley’s family and the small northern English village of St Michael’s on Wyre, where she first disappeared, come to terms with the traumatic events, Schmid said the “exploitative” crime reporting is likely to be here to stay.

The most worrying aspect of her case, he added, is the “almost palpable sense of disappointment” that it appeared to have turned out to be a tragic accident.

“Where are we as a society that we are so desperate for this type of trauma and the desire to consume other people’s trauma that we are almost let down by the fact that it wasn’t murder.”

The British mainstream media has also been criticized.

British media regulator Ofcom has asked broadcasters ITV and Sky to explain their coverage of the body after her family criticized her behaviour.

While the police had stated during their investigation that there was no evidence of anything unusual or third party involvement, the day-to-day developments were widely reported and debated on mainstream and social media.

“We are extremely concerned by the comments made by Nicola Bulley’s family about two broadcasting licensees,” Ofcom said.

In a statement issued by local police on February 21, the family said: “We tried last night to tape what we were told on the day, only to have Sky News and ITV get in touch with us directly when we specifically asked for privacy.

“It is shameful that they acted in this way. Leave us alone now.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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